As Chair of the DCC Women’s Committee, I wrote on our behalf to Minister O’Gorman & Minister O’Brien seeking maternity leave for Councillors. Currently there is no mechanism which allows women Councillors to take maternity leave whilst serving on the Council.We find this to be unjust and discriminatory.
What do I want?
The ideal outcome with be proper maternity leave with a substitute system. This would ensure that our constituents were still represented and emails/requests were answered whilst we took the time we need after giving birth. At the very least we would want a proxy vote or this online voting system to remain so we can attend meetings and vote.
What is the current situation?
Right now we have no maternity leave which leaves women feeling pressure to come back. Two councillors came back after 2 weeks whilst one came back after 3 days.Cllr. Claire Byrne said “With no maternity leave, and no remote or proxy voting, as a new mother you are completely compromised in trying to keep up your role as councillor and balance motherhood.”
On what grounds are we seeking this entitlement ?
Councillors are under the ‘Class K ‘ of PRSI system which means we are entitled to maternity benefit. We deem Section 18 (4 (b) within the current Local Government Act 2001 to be an appropriate basis upon which leave for maternity reasons could be provided for. It states that a Councillor may be absent for more than 6 month from meeting for a reason “in good faith” where be this “is accepted by the local authority and approved by resolution under this paragraph before the end of the relevant period, in which case the period shall stand extended to 12 months from the relevant date”The Moorhead Report also recommends leave.
Link to Newstalk interview https://www.newstalk.com/news/dublin-councillors-back-in-work-weeks-after-having-children-due-to-lack-of-maternity-leave-1145336
Irish Examiner article , Dublin People , 98FM, MSN.com